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ICC & Partners Request Responses to IT Industry Survey to Bring $15 Million Grant to Central Illinois

Illinois Central College, in partnership with Bradley University and Eureka College, needs input from local IT companies to bring a potential $15 million grant to central Illinois. The grant would fund a program called the Hired! IT Workforce Accelerator project. It will help ICC and its partners design training and educational programs to be delivered at no cost. These programs will certify individuals to meet employers’ current and future IT staffing needs and fill critical workforce gaps.

“Findings from the survey will aid us in creating a sustainable IT educational infrastructure to provide high-skill credentials required by the industry,” said ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey. “The project will address the regional IT workforce shortage while serving individuals entering the workforce (high school graduates and uncredentialed adults), those seeking to upskill (IT incumbent workers), and those looking for a career change. The level of documented needs is directly related to the competitiveness of our grant application.”

The Hired! IT Workforce Accelerator project is a collaboration of industry partners, educational institutions, and community-based organizations. Individuals will participate in short-term educational cohorts free of charge. Training and wrap-around services provided by community-based organizations will also be at no cost. Companies will communicate their workforce needs so that education and training programs can be developed to fill those positions; they would then commit to hiring credentialed completers based on those needs. The project will also focus on improving workforce inclusivity and access within the industry, creating employment opportunities for those in our community most in need. ICC and its partners will submit the project for a federal Good Jobs Challenge grant funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Awards range from $5 to $25 million.

IT remains one of the most in-demand skilled labor sectors in Illinois. There are more than 32,000 current job openings in the state for computer technicians and over 61,000 open positions for software developers and quality analysts, according to the latest Illinois Community College Economic Impact Study released in September.

With both new jobs and jobs vacated due to retirement and turnover, the Greater Peoria region is expected to experience 1,049 IT job openings each year through 2026, according to Emsi data. Currently, less than 40 percent of individuals over the age of 24 have a post-secondary credential while 60 percent of jobs require a credential beyond high school.

“When individuals earn credentials with labor market value, it not only changes the trajectory of their lives, but also the lives of their families, while growing the workforce, expanding businesses, and creating a more vibrant regional economy,” said Dr. Quirk-Bailey.

Companies interested in bringing this money to the region should visit icc.edu/hired-it-workforce-accelerator by December 7, 2021.